The essential checklist, for building your own house

[] When it comes to constructing one’s own house, land owners can either opt for a developer or a contractor. We list the pros and cons of each option and the points that home owners need to consider

Building a house is a one-time event for most people and an expensive affair. Quality of construction, hence, is of extreme importance to the owner, as it determines the life of the building. People who own land in a gated community, have the choice of getting the house constructed through a developer or through a contractor.

You are reading: The essential checklist, for building your own house

[] All about immovable property

Typically, a contractor arranges different resources for the construction of the house. They usually hire experts in various house building trades, at different stages, to complete the project. On the other hand, a developer completes the construction of the house project on his own. The developer will have in-house specialists like architects for design, engineers for construction, plumbers, electricians, quality management and liaison teams, etc., to manage the home’s construction from start to finish.

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Points to consider, while building a house through a developer


A developer will have experts like architects and engineers, a quality management team, liaison team and operations team, working with him on various projects. So, if you would like your architect to design the house, ensure that the developer is put in contact with your architect, for the construction process to be in sync. Timely feedback from your family and approvals of the plans (or the ghar ka naksha), will ensure that the construction can start on time.


Ensure that the developer has all the approvals pertaining to the construction of your house/building, such as the sanctioned plan, no-objection certificates and/or consent letters from various departments, structural report and insurance in place, to undertake construction of the house. Also, confirm the financial aspects, before going ahead with the project.


Once the plan for the house is finalised, the budget allocated for its construction should be conveyed to the developer. This will determine the materials to be used during construction and the structural changes to be made. Costing also depends on the design and selection of products, like flooring, bath fittings and fixtures, painting, electrical switches and fittings, modular kitchen, etc.

Choice of sub-contractors

Most developers will have their team of sub-contractors, like quality engineers, site supervisors, etc. In case you want your own sub-contractor for a particular work, the developer would have to be informed in advance, to finalise the scope of work and pricing accordingly.

Labour costs

The labour costs should be discussed before the start of construction. Ensure that the developer provides you with an estimate of changes in labor and materials costs, so that you are not in for a rude shock, when the final bill arrives. It is always better to finalise all the costs related to construction well in advance, so that there are no issues/disputes with the developer during the course of construction. Discussion on the safety and security of labour is also important, to avoid legal hassles.

Updates on construction

Make certain that your developer updates you on progress of the construction. Also, as an owner, it is advisable to visit the construction site from time to time, to check on the progress of your home so that there are no deviations from the agreed construction plan.

Essential services and interior layout

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Keeping the developer informed about your plans for the interiors and layouts is very important, as it will help him to position the power, water and lighting locations, appropriately. It is important for the owner and the developer to work together, for sanctions with respect to power, water, sewage, etc.

[] All about a turnkey project


If your developer is already into construction, you may want to seek his customers’ feedback about his expertise, vis-à-vis design, process, procedures, space utilisation, specifications and furnishing.

Completion of the project

The developer should share a comprehensive development schedule, which will include the financial support to be provided to the developer, in line with the progress of construction. Further, you will have to ensure that the decisions on selection of flooring finishes, paint colours, light fittings, bath fittings and fixtures, cabinets, etc., are done in a timely manner. Upon completion of the project, the developer’s quality team shall hand over the project with instructions, guidelines, manuals and warranties, wherever essential.

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Points to consider, while building a house through a contractor

Single point of contact

Make sure that during the construction you are updated by a single person, on the development of the project.


This should include details regarding the scope of work entrusted to the contractor and the budget for the building materials, the specifications and make/brand details of the building materials and the labour costs and sub-contract assignments and their responsibilities.


The owner will have to finalise the design with the architect and coordinate for essential approvals, such as the building plan, electricity, water and sewage connections, etc. The architect should be introduced to the contractor, to take the construction further.


Discuss the schedule of the construction with the contractor and outline the tasks to be undertaken, including the selection of kitchen fixtures, tiles, bath fittings, interiors and payment schedules for the contractor. The contractor should also update you on the progress of the construction, which will help in the decision-making process in case you require any changes.

Supervision at the site

It is very important to know the details of the person, who will supervise the day-to-day activities at the construction site. Many contractors employ site supervisors, to monitor the construction quality and activities.

Change orders

The construction contract should also provide a mechanism to handle changes. Change orders should be documented in writing, specifying the change in scope of work and costs. Some contracts also take note of the changes in schedule.

Physical presence

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Make yourself available on important days. For example, a day to decide the placement of electrical points, before the wires are run, or the day when tiles are fixed. If possible, ensure that your architect is around, to aid in better decisions.

End-of-project paperwork

Correspondence, like user manuals for electrical equipment, contact information of sub-contractors, inspection reports and list of plumbing utilities should be received, before closing the contract and finishing the project.

While planning to construct a house, a contractor may be less expensive but a developer will be a one-stop-shop to complete the project.

Tips for building your own house

Plastering: You should know that plastered surfaces develop cracks or may disintegrate, due to inaccurate adhesion. Hence, preparing the surface is an important part of ensuring proper adhesion. The surface should be devoid of dust and loose particles. Moreover, the joints between the bricks should be cautiously raked. Also, plastering should be done in two coats and there should be a proper interval between the coats.

Compacting: Good quality concrete will be wasted, if it is not compacted and cured adequately. Also, bad compacting reduces the strength and durability due to air voids. However, excessive compacting may lead to segregation of cement paste, which can make it weak. Intermittent curing should also be avoided, as it is harmful.

Reinforcement bars: Reinforcement bars are a very important component of RCC. You need to choose the right kind of steel and its placement should be right, to prevent cracking of the reinforced cement concrete (RCC). Buy steel only from a reputed manufacturer. Wrongly placed reinforcement bars can lead to failure of RCC elements and become totally ineffective. You need to ensure that there is proper congestion of bars and they have sufficient concrete cover.

Anti-termite treatment: Termites can make structures weak and damage wooden elements. So, opt for anti-termite treatment before the construction begins. For this treatment, the foundation and the soil around it, should be treated with chemicals up to the plinth level. The chemical barrier so formed should be complete and continuous. Also, this anti-termite treatment can be done before, during and after construction. Also, you need to ensure that the chemical should not contaminate the water sources.

Brick work: A structure is not considered safe if the walls are not strong and sturdy. To make a structure safe, bricks should be laid on a full bed of mortar. Also, the joints should be fully filled and packed with mortar, while the vertical joints should be staggered. Thereafter, the brickwork should be cured well, to make it strong.

Centering and formwork: If the centering work is weak and unstable, it may lead to injuries as well as material loss. Therefore, centering should be strong enough to hold the fresh concrete till it hardens. Moreover, to ensure stability, centering should be supported with props that are adequately braced. Also, the gaps between the sheets should be sealed, to avoid slurry leakage or it can result in honeycombed concrete.


Which month is best for house construction?

Usually, spring is considered the best weather for constructing houses.

What should I know before building a house?

You should set your budget, decide the contractor and quality of the materials, before starting the construction.

What to watch out when building a house?

Follow the tips mentioned in this article when building a house.

(The writer is managing director, Century Real Estate)

(With inputs from Surbhi Gupta)

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Category: Lifestyle

Debora Berti

Università degli Studi di Firenze, IT

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